But whether you've picked up a fresh pint of strawberries at a farm stand, the grocery store, or even picked your own right from your backyard—you have to wash them before you dig in! Unwashed strawberries can contain dirt and residue from processing and packing, plus pesticide residue and other yucky stuff.
Unwashed fresh berries (or any fresh produce) can have dirt, bacteria, or even tiny insects living on or in them, not to mention pesticide residue on the fruit's skin, which can lead to foodborne illness.
Don't Pre-Wash Your Strawberries
Strawberries will stay their freshest when dry and cold, and any added moisture will soften the strawberries and encourage mold growth. So instead of washing all of your berries right when you get home from the store, wash them as you plan to eat or prepare them.
Next, in the case of strawberries, place the berries in a colander and run them under cold water, gently rubbing the fruit while you do so. Make sure you get each strawberry in the washing process, stems included.
The primary rule about washing strawberries is simple: wash strawberries when, and only when, you're ready to eat or cook with them. Washing strawberries ahead of time only introduces moisture that wasn't there before and will make them go bad much faster.
The best way to clean strawberries is under the sink faucet, whether in a colander or in your hands, running cold tap water over them gently for 10 to 20 seconds. According to the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), cold water removes anywhere from 75 to 80 percent of pesticide residue from produce.
Once berries are exposed to any moisture, they go bad really quickly. I recommend only cleaning as many as you'll use. BUT if you do want to wash all of them at once, make sure you dry them super thoroughly to remove any moisture. We want them to last as long as possible!
Study shows washing strawberries properly can remove up to 98% of harmful fungicide and pesticide residue.
More on Cleaning Strawberries
You can dry strawberries by laying them out on a baking sheet lined with clean paper towels or a kitchen towel. Gently but thoroughly press the tops and sides of the berries to remove excess water before storing them in the fridge.
Do not remove the stem, and do not wash the strawberries before storing them. Use a clean glass jar that's been washed and dried thoroughly. It needs to have a tight-fitting lid.
Place in air-tight glassware: Transfer unwashed strawberries into a glass food storage container or mason jar and make sure it's sealed tight. Paper towel method: Place a clean, dry paper towel in a container and put unwashed strawberries on top. Close the lid and place the container in the refrigerator.
Cut Stems + Airtight Container, fresh for up to 1 week
For this method, you don't need to wash the berries until you're ready to use them. The only thing you'll need is a paper towel and an airtight container. This method will keep your berries fresh for about a week.
Sometimes, raw fruits and vegetables contain harmful germs that can make you and your family sick, such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria. The safest produce to eat is cooked; the next safest is washed. Wash fruits and vegetables under running water—even if you do not plan to eat the peel.
Rinsing removes debris and dirt and any microbial contaminants they may contain. Washing also helps remove some of the surface pesticides that may be present, though guidelines are generally the same for organic produce as for conventional produce.
Tightly seal the container and place it in the refrigerator.
Dry, airtight strawberries should last in the refrigerator for seven days or longer. For the freshest flavor, however, you'll want to eat them sooner than that.
Do you wash strawberries with salt or vinegar? You can wash strawberries with both, though neither are necessary—water works just fine! If you want to wash with salt though, you can dissolve 1 teaspoon in a couple of cups of warm water.
To help remove pesticides and bacteria, rinse your fresh strawberries in saltwater. Dissolve one teaspoon of salt for every cup of warm water and let cool before adding your strawberries. Let them soak for a couple of minutes, then rinse under cool running water. Once clean, pat the berries dry with a clean cloth.
Strawberries have topped the list as the most pesticide-laden fruit for the past six years. EWG testing revealed that 90% of strawberries contained at least one pesticide, and 30% of the crop had traces of 10 or more different toxins.
Myth: Produce Spray or Soap Is the Best Way to Clean Your Fruits and Vegetables. Fact: According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), washing fruits and vegetables with soap, detergent or commercial produce wash is not recommended.
And once a berry is contaminated, it's unlikely that the virus will be washed off, Chapman said. Because berries are more delicate than other fruits, they're not washed as often, he said. They might be lightly sprayed or misted before being frozen, but that probably won't remove a virus, he said.
Just keep it in an airtight jar in your fridge. "If you put your fruit, like strawberries, in a glass jar in the refrigerator, they stay fresh for 2 to 3 weeks!" This method of storing food is actually pretty popular amongst the zero-waste community.
Strawberry Cleaning: Remove Pesticides and Bugs
Soak strawberries for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse berries in plain water. Lay out berries to dry on paper towels or towels for at least 20 minutes, they need to be totally dry. Store the berries in the refrigerator in an open, well ventilated container.
Colanders are perfect for strawberry storage, allowing air to circulate freely. Unlike whole berries, once strawberries have been cut or hulled, they should be stored in an airtight container to protect the exposed flesh from mold and bacterial development, significantly reducing shelf life.